Indian beauty and foreign spirits: The golden casket in the merchant of Venice


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The casket scenes in The Merchant of Venice are powerful arbiters of success and failure. The casket challenge is loaded with culturally-specific signifiers which favour local contenders. Bassanio rejects the gold casket because he is aware that European moral iconographies repudiate earthly wealth (though, ironically, Bassanio is a poor illustration of the principle). The Prince of Morocco, by contrast, understandably supposes gold to be an appropriate metaphor for love - gold was, after all, the prima materia of North Africa. Morocco is on every level more worthy than Bassanio but fails because he chooses through foreign eyes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalActa Orientalia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bassanio
  • Caskets
  • Fortune
  • Gold
  • Iconography
  • Morocco
  • Portia
  • Shakespeare


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